One thousand gifts

family 2016

This Christmas season, this season of lists, I am starting a new one – a list of one thousand things I love, one thousand gifts I already have.  I want you to know that you are one of those gifts – to me, to our family, to the work we get to do, also a gift I never take for granted.

Because of you, the N team in Nigeria has two new gifts.  They not only completed the book of Acts this summer while John was there, but the gospel of John as well.  Because of you, every member of my family is growing, changing, and maturing.  Because of you, we will be enjoying Christmas gifts around the tree.

May the Lord give you eyes to see the beauty that you might otherwise miss in this busy, holy time of year, and new hope for a fresh start in 2017.

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Pressing on…

Lent

” …revealed to us by his Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 2:10

Last Sunday night, Michael and I were settling in to read a book together before bed, and our current favorite, his “Twinkle Book”, was nowhere to be found. (It’s a devotional called My Grandma and Me, with a number of songs in it to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.)  I tried to substitute another book (being ready for bed myself), but he insisted that nothing else would do.  So, in desperation, I took his hand and together we asked Jesus to help us find the Twinkle Book.  Immediately I felt we should look under the bed (again) and sure enough, way back in the corner, we found it.

Michael was impressed (so was I!) and he asked how God told me to look there.  This led to a discussion of how we can listen for His voice and respond to it whenever we need His help.  So he didn’t stop there.  He said, “There’s something else I miss – going to the beach.”  I told him our car was still not working and that we should pray together for Granddad to figure out how to fix it.  We held hands again and asked for the car to work so we could go to the beach this summer.

During the time John was in Nigeria, our old Ford Contour had died, the Subaru we had gotten for Derek developed a leak in the head gasket, and the moped Hannah had been using to get to the methadone clinic started acting up.  I purchased a 1998 Passat, but on the way to the airport to pick John up, it refused to start in a Walmart parking lot, and we both had to be retrieved by a friend.  Our mechanic had worked on it for a morning with no success, and John had been doing research and tearing it apart for a week with the same result.  But the day after Michael prayed, he found the solution! and we have a working vehicle again.

I didn’t have much to show for the past several months on my latest report to my Seed Company supervisor:

  1. Sent out three email updates, and added five posts to my blog.
  2. Prepared income tax documents for the family.
  3. Worked through the changes in Wycliffe’s financial policies and updated our Ministry Budget.
  4. Did some work on the Hona text.
  5. Started going to NarAnon meetings again (support group for the families of addicts).
  6. Provided continuity, love and structure to grandson, Michael.
  7. Sent John off to Nigeria during the month of May, and spent most of the month in the car driving Hannah to her daily methadone clinic, court-ordered rehab classes and court dates.
  8. Handled the sale of our car when it died, and the purchase of a replacement.
  9. Considered quitting The Seed Company and going to work full time, and in the end thought better of it.

But it did list the following items for which I am very thankful:

  1. Derek continues to thrive. He helped me in many ways while John was gone, providing practical and emotional support. He is almost ready to get his driver’s license, and is looking at job possibilities.
  2. Michael is a daily source of joy. He is growing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
  3. The medication I am taking as part of a clinical trial to treat polycystic kidney disease continues to keep my creatinine numbers steady, and John has not had problems with kidney stones for a while now. His energy levels are better too (although still recovering from his time in Nigeria).
  4. John had a very successful time with the N team in May, in spite of coming down with malaria in the midst of the checking.
  5. Hannah and boyfriend Joe are both now on methadone, and are rebuilding their lives.
  6. Working a twelve-step program with a sponsor at NarAnon is helping me regain my balance and take control of my life again.

I concluded:

John’s malaria and my trouble with three cars and a cantankerous moped while he was away have made me aware once again that doing the work we do places us squarely in the midst of a spiritual battle.  It’s not surprising that the enemy would try to tempt me to quit and go back to the workplace, with the lure of steady income, cars that run, and alleviation of the guilt I feel for being unable to work on my assignment.  There are even two full-time openings at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for writers…  But I have recommitted myself to this work and all the challenges it brings with it.

My supervisor’s response to my report could have been, “Go ahead and take that job at BGEA!”  But instead, she wrote:

“I just admire and appreciate your brave spirit and that you keep pressing on with your commitment. Praying for you that you can just keep right in the middle of the Lord’s plan for you and be at peace.” 

I pray the same for you today – may you be at peace in whatever circumstances you are facing.  Thank you for pressing on, along with me, with your commitment to the Bibleless people of the world.

In the middle of the Lord’s plan,
Barb

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One up, one down… and a report from the home front

This morning’s email from John reported that the team’s main translator (S) is feeling great relief from his back pain, and is very grateful for your prayers!  It also reported that John came down with malaria last night – something we didn’t expect at Jos’ high altitude!  So keep praying this team through the book of Acts.

Thank you for your prayers for us here in Waxhaw as well.  It seems to never fail that something breaks while John is away – this time it was the car, which we had to bid a fond farewell to.  Thankfully we were able to locate a new one in our price range, which I am purchasing today.

Addiction got the best of Hannah again in the aftermath of placing her baby boy (born in January) with an adoptive family.  She has decided to get on methadone as a first step in her recovery, and rides a moped every morning to the next town to get her dose.  She is not feeling well, with mystery back pain.  But she is working hard to find a job and reconnect with Michael, who is doing fabulously and continues to bring joy and sunshine wherever he goes. I love this recent picture of the two of them.

Derek is making great strides these days.  He is taking driving lessons and we see him growing in self-confidence and hope every day.  Thank you for your ongoing prayers for all of the dear ones entrusted to us.

Thanks, too, for praying for our health.  John is on new medication that helps him with his energy level and stamina (and is working on lifestyle changes).  My kidney numbers seem to be holding their own or even going down on the trial medication I am on, instead of following the normal trajectory of steadily increasing.  We have much to be thankful for.

Ten more days…. let’s get John home and Acts to the printer!

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Some things are funnier in your own language.

Peter and Rhoda

From John:

We are moving along well. Paul and Barnabus are traveling around Cyprus (chapter 13). Paul has rebuked Elymas the sorcerer and he is going to be blind for a while. Paul is now preaching a rather long-winded sermon in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch.

I work with an excellent team of men who know the Bible well. So I found it interesting that when Peter was released from jail they were chuckling, and when Rhoda left him standing at the gate they laughed uproariously. It must be that hearing it in their own language for the first time made the absurdity of the situation all the more real.

Please pray for S (name withheld for his protection). He is the main translator of the language team I am consulting. S is suffering from excruciating back pains. He is taking medication which is helping but is still suffering. Today he quit 15 minutes early because of the pain. If he has to drop out our checking will stop. We are up against deadlines; if we do not finish Acts by the end of September the team could lose their funding. So please storm heaven with your prayers for S. And pray that we can get enough of Acts done in the next ten days that we can complete it in the next workshop.

Thank you so much, from all of us.  You are an essential member of this team.

Hɨn ɗɨkǝˈǝta a nzaa chamǝchi ka miye tɨkin gɨ nji Yahuda,
Ka kɨryai mbɨrkɨn kpa ka vyaɗyachi vɨdikɨn.

We put-you to be-you light to those not-them be the Jews,
To bring-you healing/salvation up-to ending(place)-of world.

I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.
Acts 13:47 (language name withheld)

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Urgent?

From John:

Another plane trip, another month away. I read the warnings posted by the State Department on Nigeria, kidnappings in the south, bombings in the north, dangerous roads, on and on for two pages, then it says, in essence: “Don’t take this trip unless your business is urgent!” Interesting challenge. Of course I could say, “It is urgent. The Nzanyi people need their own Scripture. They have churches with only English and Hausa Bibles, Bibles, with many people do not understand them, and many more who do not understand them well. What could be more urgent?” Or I could say, “It is urgent; there is a bottleneck preventing Scriptures from being published – a lack of qualified consultants. With over 200 languages in Nigeria needing translations, the young men I’m training to do my job are needed immediately.  What could be more urgent?”

But urgency isn’t the only reason I’m on a plane today.  I do this work because it is fun. I love working with Nigerians. They are passionate about what they are doing and they are passionate about prayer, and the Scriptures, and the Lord. I like the way that rubs off on me. I love the hours spent going through the Word verse by verse, in Greek, in commentaries, in discussion, in the passionate pursuit of understanding what the authors (human and divine) were trying to say. And then studying Nzanyi grammar, story structure, phonology (so we can spell it well), turns of phrases, in the attempts to express Scriptural concepts in a sun-baked, farming, entrepreneurial language of the African savannah. In our corporate, desperate appeals to the Holy Spirit and using all our knowledge and training, can our little team make Jesus speak Nzanyi? What could be more fun?

So, for whatever motives, I’m on my way again. As you know, our salary is paid NPR style, by Wycliffe through churches and individuals like you who share our motives. And if Scripture is to be believed (what a conditional) then you also share our rewards. I can only say thank you so much. So, so, much for the privilege of being involved in something that is so much fun.

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Marred Canvases

Hyatt5

During the annual meetings of The Seed Company last fall, Wycliffe artist Hyatt Moore painted a gorgeous life-size painting of people around the world over the course of the four days we were together.  On the day of our arrival, we had to wait three hours for our room to be ready, and Michael was tired and bored.  Hyatt put a paint brush in Michael’s hand and asked him to help him paint his painting!  We all cringed as the master artist entrusted his beautiful work to a three-year-old!  Michael was delighted – he took it very seriously at first, and then began running back and forth along the huge canvas making swirls of blue with joyful abandon.  And when Hyatt told him they were done for the day, he dutifully put his brush back in the bucket of water.

Day by day we watched the people emerge from the caHyatt2nvas.  As the painting developed,  I noticed that Hyatt left in some of Michael’s swirls – on purpose.  He shared with the whole group on the last day what a picture this was to him of how God allows us to participate in his masterpieces, and how he takes our inept but joyful offerings and creates something beautiful.  He is even able to take the paint strokes in our lives that seem random and destructive, and weave them into something breathtaking.

That’s my story.  And it’s Hannah‘s story, too. Paint strokes that seemed to mar her are being woven into something beautiful.  Please surround her in prayer in these coming weeks.  Joe gets out of prison in one week – January 20 – in time for the birth of the baby boy they are placing in a loving adoptive family. She has done so well for the past two months.  Pray for her resolve to hold, and her heart to heal.

Please also pray for John, who has been suffering from kidney stones and extreme fatigue – for healing and solutions. He travels again in April, and is working with teams remotely in the meantime.

Please pray for me, too.  I am involved in a clinical trial of a new medication for treating my hereditary polycystic kidney disease.  At the risk of skewing the results, please pray! I am beginning analysis of the Hona language of Nigeria, at the request of a colleague during the Seed Company meetings.

Thank you!  May you experience God’s beauty in your life today.

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Giving Back

There is just no way to thank you enough for your friendship, generosity and kindness to me and my family this year.  You have sustained me and John through some big challenges, and have made it possible for the Nzanyi and Rakaai translations to move forward in significant ways.  God sees it all and his rewards are beyond what we can imagine!  But on the human level, I want to bless you back in a meaningful way.  I wish I could sit down with you right now, buy you a cup of coffee and let you talk – you’ve heard enough about me this year!  I would love to just be able to listen, rejoice with you, cry with you, and pray with you.

Maybe we can do that on the phone or Skype sometime soon.  But in the meantime, here’s the next best thing.  The first 40 days of the new year are very special to me.  For the past three years, this has been a time of fasting, prayer and listening to God – preparing body, soul and mind for the year to come.  This year I am embarking on something new – “40 Days of Listening” – in which I will listen to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and put what I hear him saying into words.  I find that when I write something down it comes alive.  When I externalize a word in my spirit, it “becomes flesh” and takes on a life of its own.  It is my prayer that these words will resonate with your spirit and what God is already saying to you; and that he will use them to encourage you, draw you near and point the way in dark places.

giving back

Writing is life-giving to me, and I pray that these offerings can be a breath of life to you as well.  I’ll be posting daily on my new blogspot, “Grace Notes”.  Just click on the link to visit the site and click “Follow” to join me on this journey.  Thank you, once again! And be very blessed in 2016.

 

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